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"Big Brother" Surveillance Stops Salmonella Getting Stressed Out

by 5m Editor
27 December 2006, at 12:17pm

GERMANY - Scientists from Germany and the UK have discovered how pathogens such as Salmonella respond quickly to stress in its bacterial membrane or "skin", giving insight into how the bacterium is able to adapt so rapidly to a multitude of harsh environments.

Salmonella food poisoning costs the UK economy around £1 billion every year and severe cases can become life threatening for the young and the elderly.

The researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology and the Institute of Food Research hope that a better understanding of how the pathogen copes with stress will help develop new ways of fighting and preventing infections.

When the bacterium infects its host, it must survive a range of harsh conditions from strong acids in the stomach, to anaerobic and salty environments in the intestine.

To adapt to these different conditions, Salmonella must continuously remodel its bacterial “skin” by inserting outer membrane proteins (OMPs) into the cell wall which regulate the transport of salts and allow the bacterium to communicate with its environment.

This research, published in the journal Molecular Microbiology, reveals that Salmonella uses a surveillance loop to constantly monitor levels of OMPs to respond fast to signs of stress by switching off protein expression using molecules called small RNAs (sRNAs). These bind to the messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules responsible for the production of OMPs.

Source: Medical news Today

5m Editor